In most years, the driver death rate in 15-passenger vans is lower than in other passenger vehicles, but the occupant death rate in the vans is higher because of the higher occupancy rates. Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release urging colleges, church groups, and other users of 15-passenger vans to take specific steps to keep drivers and passengers safe. The most important safety tip is to have drivers and passengers always use seatbelts.
15-Passenger Van Rollover Prevention
Most injuries and deaths from 15-passenger van accidents happen during rollovers. Laboratory tests conducted for NHTSA found that the increased risk of rollover for 15-passenger vans was associated with their high centers of gravity. To prevent rollovers and other accidents, NHTSA recommends the following:
- Never overload the van. NHTSA research shows overloading 15-passenger vans both increases rollover risk and makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
- Make certain that appropriately sized and load rated tires are used, and that they are properly inflated. Tire pressure can vary on front and back tires that are used for 15-passenger vans. Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner’s manual and on the door pillar.
- Have suspension and steering components inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and replace or repair these parts as necessary.
- Make sure drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.